Suburban Pioneers

The Adventures and Misadventures of Homesteading in 21st-Century America

Lauren: Squashpuppies: A Yellow Squash Recipe June 23, 2014

Filed under: Food & Cooking,Gardens & Compost,Real Food,Vegetarian Dinner,Veggies — lkcook20 @ 6:23 pm

I have to admit that I don’t love yellow squash. It’s okay, but it doesn’t come close to how I feel about asparagus or beets.

But I love this yellow squashpuppies recipe, probably because it isn’t super healthy and you can’t really taste the yellow squash. Ha ha. Oh well. It’s super delicious!


4 cups of oil (I used olive oil)

3-4 yellow squash, sliced (You’ll end up using 2 c. the squash puree)

2 eggs beaten

1 1/4 c. all purpose flour or 1 3/4 c. cup freshly-milled flour

1/3 c. cornmeal

2 tbsp. sugar

1 tbsp baking powder

1 tsp salt

1 1/3 tbsp. oil

2 tsp minced onion

1/2 tsp garlic powder

1/2 c. cheese



1. Heat oil to 375 degrees in a small pot. (It takes a little longer to cook all of the squashpuppies in a small pot, but you can use less oil.)

2. Place squash in saucepan. Cover with water and bring to a boil. Simmer ten minutes, or until tender. Drain and puree. Let cool.

3. In a small bowl, combine flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, salt, oil, onion, garlic powder, and cheese. In a medium bowl, mix 2 c. of squash puree with the eggs. Add the dry mixture into the wet.

4. Drop by rounded spoonfuls into the hot oil. (It’s okay if the batter is a little on the runny side.) Cook until they are brown and crisp on one side. It should only take a couple minutes, then flip. Once they are brown and crisp on both sides, remove, and drain on paper towels.





Sarah: Best Brownies Ever April 4, 2014

Nothing says decadent like a chocolate brownie with coffee ice cream!

Nothing says decadent like a chocolate brownie with coffee ice cream!

Our previous house had no dishwasher.  Oh, yes, it is definitely more eco-friendly to wash dishes by hand.  I know the statistics.  But I hate washing dishes.  On the other hand, I love eating, and I love cooking, which is why I’ve added another requirement to my test of a good dish:

  • Delicious taste   ×   
  • No processed food ingredients   ×   
  • Low dish to food quantity ratio  ×   

It’s quite difficult to achieve the last two in tandem, you see.  Dishes without many processed ingredients tend to require more measuring spoons, knives, cutting boards, prep bowls etc.  If I’m going to wash all those extra items, there had better be a large quantity of food to show for it–an entire crockpot of soup, for instance.

Here’s my homemade brownie recipe.  It meets all of the above criteria–no processed food and only as many dishes to wash as you would need for a boxed recipe (I figure if it’s not almost as easy and painless as a pre-made mix, no one will want to make it).  Also, this is the DOUBLED recipe for a 9×13 pan instead of 8×8, (remember, if you’re going to wash those dishes, you’d better get a lot of food to show for it!)  Here’s what you’ll need:


* 9×13 pan * a pot large enough to mix in * a 1/2 tsp. measuring spoon * 1 c. measuring cup *wooden spoon

***WARNING: these brownies aren’t “healthy”–they’re just not processed or prepackaged.  Personally, I’m okay with lots of butter!

1 c. butter
1 c. brown sugar
1 c. white sugar
2 tsp. vanilla
4 eggs
1 c. flour
2/3 c. cocoa powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 bag chocolate chips, peanut butter chips, mint chips or 1 c. nuts (optional)

The trick to making this with minimal dishes is doing it in the right order.  Here goes!

1. Preheat oven to 350°.  Melt butter in pot on stove over medium heat.

2.  While waiting for butter to melt, rub the wrapper of the butter over your 9×13 pan to grease it.  Use the 1/2 tsp. measuring spoon to spoon a little flour into the pan and tap the pan on all sides, shaking the flour around to coat evenly.

3.  As soon as butter is melted, remove pot immediately from the heat.  In 1 c. measuring cup, measure out brown then white sugar  and stir into the melted butter (you can use 2 c. brown or 2 c. white to make it easier, but I like the taste of half and half).

4. Measure out the salt in the 1/2 tsp. measuring spoon, then the baking powder, and mix into the pot.  Then add the c. of flour (best to do this after the baking powder and salt to make sure those two ingredients mix evenly into the liquid first).

5. Using 1/2 tsp. measuring spoon to help scoop, fill your 1 c. measuring cup almost all the way full of cocoa powder (there’s no need to use a different measuring cup to be exact for the 2/3 c. of cocoa powder…after all, who objects to a little extra chocolate?).  Stir in cocoa powder.

6. Add in eggs (the other ingredients will have cooled the warm butter down enough not to cook the eggs…egg particles in brownies = yuck!).  Stir in the vanilla, 1/2 a tsp. at a time so you don’t have to dirty another measuring spoon (you can substitute 1 tsp. of peppermint extract for one of the tsp. of vanilla if you’re making mint brownies).

7.  Stir in chocolate chips, peanut butter chips, mint chips, or nuts (optional).  Pour into floured and greased 9×13 pan and bake for ~20 minutes (until little cracks show on top).

Bake until slight cracks show in the top crust (I burned brownies until I learned this trick!).

Bake until slight cracks show in the top crust (I burned brownies until I learned this trick!).

Now that I’ve made this recipe a few times, it’s almost as fast for me as a box recipe would be.  The prep time takes less than 10 minutes, and the dish washing time is the same as it would be for a box.  I’m just washing a pot instead of a mixing bowl, and I can feel a lot better about the ingredients!


Lauren: Homemade Slow Cooker Applesauce November 8, 2013

I’m all about low-maintenance these days. You’ll usually find my hair in a ponytail and probably with some dry shampoo in it. I just haven’t mastered the art of showering with kids yet. In case you were wondering, here’s why:

1. If I shower in the morning, I’ll wake them up (not worth it).

2. I don’t want to waste any of the precious two hours of nap time I get in the afternoon (not worth it).

3. If I let the kids roam free while I’m getting clean, I spend the whole time stressed out and listening for the sound of crying or, just as dangerous, too much laughter (not worth it).

4. I don’t like showering at night because then my pillow gets wet and I have funky-looking hair in the morning.You might ask why I don’t just blow-dry it. Well, Sarah’s mom’s theory about drying dishes is: why spend time doing something that will happen eventually (not worth it).

And you thought this post was about apples. . . Well, it is, I promise, I just had to rant about showering first.

I feel the same way about dry shampoo as I do about the low maintenance of Homemade Crock Pot Applesauce. (How’s that for a segue?) All you have to do is throw some apples in the slow cooker, come back in a few hours, blend it up and tada! Applesauce. Easy Peasy.

We normally go apple-picking, but we’re kind of traveled-out right now so we skipped the 1.5 hour drive and picked our apples from the farmer’s market. To be honest, I kind of liked it better. We were able to buy a wide variety without having to walk down 4 sides of a mountain and still had the rest of our morning to do whatever we wanted! Shower, perhaps? Nah. . . probably not.

What to do:

1. Cut up 10-12 apples. Use an apple slicer if you have one. You don’t need to peel the apple. Yep, that’s right. I mean, you can if you want to, if you are an overachiever or something. . . or you have an extra 20 minutes to spare.

2. Throw the apple wedges in the Crock Pot.

3. Add 1/2 cup apple cider or water. Apple cider will give the applesauce a little more of a spicy, sweet flavor. You could also add a tsp. of cinnamon. Some people add sugar, but I don’t think it’s necessary. If you get the sweeter apples, the applesauce will be tasty enough on its own. See this previous post for apple varieties.

4. Turn the Crock Pot on low and let it simmer for 5-6 hours, until the apples get mushy.

5. Go about your day.

6. Use an immersion blender to blend it all up. (My immersion blender was seriously the best $4 I ever spent at Goodwill.) The flecks of peel are so tiny, you won’t even notice them. Or you could run it through a blender or food mill.


6. Pour the applesauce in mason jars and stick them in the fridge.

If you want to can the applesauce you’ll need:

Water bath canner (or, if you’re like me, a big stockpot and round cake pan rack)

Jars and Lids

(Makes 5-6 half-pints)

1. Sterilize the jars and lids

2. Pour applesauce into jars. Leave 1/2 inch head space. If you’re messy like me, wipe the rims with a clean towel or rag.

3. Screw on the lids.

4. Place jars in boiling water. Once the water returns to a boil, reduce heat (so it’s still boiling but won’t overflow), cover with a lid, and process it for 15 minutes.

5. Voila’! Applesauce. Store in your pantry and bust it out in the dead of winter when you want a taste of pure fall.



Lauren: My Favorite Bread Recipe Made From Freshly-Ground Flour September 12, 2013

I’m embarrassed to admit that 6 months ago I had no idea what wheat berries were and couldn’t have identified them if you asked me to (“Weird-looking rice???”).


But now I am one of those people–the crazy-grind-your-own-grain folk. It’s not as “out there” as I thought (or maybe I’m too far gone now to accurately judge). When someone first told me they had friends that ground their own flour, I pictured them threshing stalks of grain in their bathtub. Needless to say, things are much more modern than I had originally imagined.

This all started when I learned that in the 1920’s, millers began to remove the germ, germ oil, and bran from wheat so it would have a longer shelf life. They ended up taking out most of the nutrients (25+ including Vitamin E, Vitamin B, Iron, and Calcium). When people started to get sick, they put 4 nutrients back in and called it “enriched.”

We decided to give grinding our own grain a shot, found some wheat berries at a health food store, and ground them up in our juicer. The bread was amazing! I had been using whole wheat flour to make bread and it always ended up kind of dry and hard. Bread made from freshly-ground flour is moist and delicious. It’s completely superior! It’s so worth it–for the taste and nutritional benefits.

We used some credit card points to purchase a Wondermill. It’s pretty quiet and only takes a few minutes to produce freshly-ground flour. (The juicer worked okay, but it took a while and could only produce a coarse flour.) We buy wheat berries in bulk from Bread Beckers.

Now I grind the wheat berries, toss the flour into a ziploc bag, and put it in the freezer. You can use it “as is” from the freezer so it’s no different than pulling flour out of a pantry.

And here is my favorite bread recipe from a blog called Home with Purpose. The recipe only has eight ingredients and takes me about an hour to make (and that includes time to rise!)! I usually cut the recipe in half, which makes three loaves of bread. We eat one while it’s warm and slice and freeze one or two loaves for later. Yum.



Lauren: Quick and Healthy Drop Biscuits (Five Ingredients!) March 18, 2013




2 cups whole wheat pastry flour

3/4 tsp baking soda

1/2 cup salted butter

1/4 cup vinegar

1/2 cup milk


1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Combine flour and baking soda. Cut in butter. Stir in vinegar and milk until dough is sticky. (Add additional milk if dough is not getting sticky.) Spoon onto greased cookie sheet. Bake for 10-15 minutes, or until light golden brown.

2. Enjoy!


Lauren: Homemade Cinnamon Bread March 11, 2013

There’s just something about homemade bread that’s magical. I think the heavenly smell has something to do with it. And if the bread is slightly sweet with cinnamon? Even better.



1 cup milk

3/4 cup water

1/3 cup butter

6 1/2 – 7 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour (or white whole wheat flour for a “wheatier” taste)

6 tbsp brown sugar

1 1/2 tsp kosher salt

2 packages active dry yeast

3 eggs, at room temperature

1/3 cup honey (or more or less to taste)

2 tsp cinnamon

2 tbsp butter, melted


*This recipe assumes the use of a Stand Mixer.

1. Combine milk, water, and 1/3 cup butter in small saucepan. Heat on low until 120-130 F (butter probably won’t be all the way melted).

2. Place 6 cups flour, 6 tbsp sugar, salt, and yeast in mixing bowl. Attach bowl and dough hook. Turn to Speed 2 and mix 15 seconds. Gradually add eggs, liquids from pan, about 1 min. Mix on speed 2 for 1 more minute.

3. Continue on speed 2, add remaining flour, 1/2 cup at a time, until dough clings to hook and cleans side of bowl, about 2 min. Kneed on speed 2 for 2 more minutes.

4. Place in greased bowl, turn to grease top. Cover; let rise in warm place (I put a bowl of hot water in my oven with the dough bowl and keep the door shut) until doubled in bulk (about 35 min.).

5. Punch dough down and divide in half. Roll each half to a 9 x 14 rectangle. Brush each half with melted butter. Sprinkle with cinnamon and then drizzle with honey. Roll dough (tightly!) and shape into loaves. Place in two 9 x 5 x 3 in. loaf pans.

6. Cover; let rise in warm place (back in the oven!) until doubled in bulk, about 35 minutes. Bake at 375 for 40 minutes (but check sooner). Remove from pans immediately and cool on wire racks.

7. Spread with jam or peanut butter, or turn into French Toast. . . delicious!


*This recipe was adapted from the Kitchen Aid recipe book.


Lauren: Top Eight Easy, Healthy, Less-Processed Substitutions Anyone Can Make December 18, 2012

1. Coconut Oil or Olive Oil instead of Canola or Vegetable Oil


According to, coconut oil’s health benefits include:  “hair care, skin care, stress relief, maintaining cholesterol levels, weight loss, increased immunity, proper digestion and metabolism, relief from kidney problems, heart diseases, high blood pressure, diabetes, HIV and cancer, dental care, and bone strength. These benefits of oil can be attributed to the presence of lauric acid, capric acid and caprylic acid, and its properties such as antimicrobial, antioxidant, antifungal, antibacterial and soothing properties.”

Now that’s good stuff.

Tips: Coconut oil is usually solid unless it’s kept in a really warm place. Use as a solid to saute or place the jar in warm water to turn it into a liquid.

You can also massage the oil onto your body as a moisturizer or into your hair to help combat dandruff.

2. Whole Wheat Flour instead of regular white flour


Regular white flour is often bleached as well as highly refined (a.k.a. processed), which causes it to loose nutrients. I use regular whole wheat for breads, white whole wheat for muffins, roux, pancakes, etc, and whole wheat pastry flour for cookies and desserts (Seriously! You can’t even taste the difference!).

See this article for more information on whole wheat.

3. Honey, Molasses, or 100% Maple Syrup instead of white granulated sugar


I mostly use honey as my white or brown sugar substitute since molasses has a distinct taste and real maple syrup is pricey. Here’s more info on honey.

Tips: When using honey in baking, use 1/2 a cup of honey for each cup of sugar called for in a recipe, reduce the liquid in the recipe by 1/4 of a cup, and set your oven 25 degrees lower than the directions say.

4. Whole Grain Pasta


This is a super easy switch to make and you get used to the more wholesome taste.

Tips: Look for 100% whole grain.

5. Natural Peanut Butter


A lot of the peanut butter on the market has hydrogenated vegetable oils, sugar or dextrose, and salt. All you really need is peanuts!

Tips: Steer clear of ones that say “Natural” and then add more ingredients like palm oil, etc.

6. Recognizable-ingredient (five or less) snack foods


Let’s be honest. Sometimes you just need an easy go-to snack. The ingredients for Triscuit Thin Crisps are: whole grain soft white winter wheat, soybean oil, salt. And the Unique Pretzel Shells include: Unbleached Wheat Flour, Canola Oil, Salt, Yeast, and Soda. These break some rules (the oils) but are a lot healthier than most other snacks on the market.

7. Real Butter


Real butter doesn’t have all that hydrogenated fat. Go organic if you can. And if you’re able to find butter from grass-fed non-hormone-treated cows, that’s even better.

Here’s more on butter versus margarine.

8. Brown Rice in place of White Rice


White rice undergoes a process that removes most of its nutrients. Brown rice has only had the hull removed so most of the good stuff is still there. And we like the good stuff:)

Here’s some more info if you’re interested.

That’s it. Most of these substitutions don’t cost all that much more, if at all. And your body will thank you. It’ll be like getting a massage. . . on the inside. . . sort of. . .


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